However, HTC isn't sitting pretty as the competition is spreading their Android offerings to other segments aside from the high-end category on Sprint's lineup. Moving right along, we now find the HTC EVO Shift 4G supplementing the Taiwanese company's presence while still retaining some of the elements that made its bigger brother such a hit across the board.
From afar, you're more than likely to mistaken it for the EVO 4G, but in fact, the HTC EVO Shift 4G packs on a landscape sliding physical keyboard. On the surface, it employs some of the same design cues found in use with its close relative, but there's nothing really too different about it that makes you perceive it as a completely original device. Nonetheless, it's still a decent looking industrial design, but doesn't necessarily compare to the styling of something more refined – like the T-Mobile G2, for instance. In addition to its sturdy feeling exterior, we're happy with the overall build quality, as it feels solidly built to provide with a sense of durability.
Sizing down to a 3.6” capacitive touchscreen, it makes the handset abundantly more manageable to hold in the hand, but doesn't skimp out in detail, since it retains the same WVGA (480 x 800) resolution. It's surely a nice looking display, but doesn't quite have that wow factor that's felt when looking at other display technologies. Still, it should suffice, as it feels fairly responsive to the touch, and packs plenty of pixels to its smaller real estate.
As for the landscape style keyboard, we're fairly satisfied with the layout, since buttons are decent in size, and offer a subtle response when pressed. In the short time we've been checking out the handset, we didn't have any issues in speed typing, since there is a decent amount of spacing between the keys to reduce accidental presses. Granted that you'll need to manually slide the handset to get its keyboard exposed, much like the Motorola DROID - it locks into place and has a little bit of resistance to it.
For the rest of the HTC EVO Shift 4G, we find things like an 800 MHz second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with flash, HD video recording, 512MB RAM, 2GB ROM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, aGPS, 1,500 mAh battery, Sense UI running on top of Android 2.2 Froyo, and of course, support for Sprint's WiMAX 4G network.
With that in tow, you'll surely find faster data speeds in locations that have the service available, but the one thing we find lacking on the handset is none other than a front facing camera. When you think about it, you'll need to pay that extra monthly data premium to use the device, but it doesn't offer the same video chatting functionality found on the HTC EVO 4G or the Samsung Epic 4G.
You won't have to wait long to get this device since it's going to become available starting January 9th for the on-contract price of $149.99 after a $100 mail-in-rebate. Interestingly, its lower price point just might potentially make all the difference for this Android powered smartphone – time will indeed tell!